16 January, 2012

History of the Hovercraft

A hovercraft is a flying machine, a type of air cushion vehicle. When it comes to flying machines, ideas easily date back to ancient Greece. This is not the case with air cushion vehicles.

The first recorded design for such a vehicle was in 1716 by Emanuel Swedenborg, a Swedish designer, philosopher and theologian. Swedenborg's design appeared in the fourth edition of Sweden's first scientific journal, Daedulus Hyperboreus, and is the first detailed technical description of a flying machine of any type.

Swedenborg's man-powered air cushion platform, basically a circular aircraft, resembled an upside-down boat with a cockpit in the center or a "flying saucer." His manually-operated device required the would-be pilot to use oar-like scoops to push air under the vehicle on each downward stroke in order to raise the hull out of the water. A working model of the design was never built, because Swedenborg soon realized that a human could not sustain the energy needed to power the oars. His concept required a source of energy far greater than any available at that time.

As with many other forms of transportation, significant progress had to wait until a lightweight motor was developed in the nineteenth century …

Read the full History of the Hovercraft, from 1700 to the present day …

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